In Sickness and in Health

By CarolM <>

Rated: PG13

Submitted: October 2007

Summary: What if Lois hadn't been switched for the clone until *after* the wedding? When Clark finds out that he's her husband, he takes steps to remove her from Deter's "care."

Thanks to AnnieM, Missy, Kaylle, Sarah [Meerkat], Bethy, Jana, and Anna [Bananna] who all helped with this at some point.

The scene in the hayloft references from Missy Gallant's Merry Smoochie to You and can be found on the archive.

* emphasis

/ remembering or thoughts

~ superhearing

I don't own any of the characters and this picks up at the end of Seconds.


Clark looked at the beautiful woman being wheeled towards him. "Wanda?"

There was no response.

He knelt next to her as the nurse paused where he was standing. "Lois?"


Clark let out the breath he hadn't known he was holding in. "How are you feeling?"

Her voice was soft. "All right, I guess." Her eyes lifted to his and her head tilted slightly. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"

Panic tore through his mind, but he refused to give in to it. She was kidding, that was it, she had to be kidding. He didn't know quite how to respond, but she was obviously waiting for him to say something. "Uh, yes."

She looked at him a little closer. "What's your name?"

Maybe she wasn't kidding. "Clark."

"Clark." She shook her head slightly. "Hmm."

He nodded.

"Well, see you… Clark."

Clark watched as she was wheeled down the hall. "See you, Lois."


Clark sat on the steps leading into his living room and let his head rest on his hands. He ran both hands through his hair and found himself emitting a guttural sound from deep in his throat.

His poor Lois. Memory gone, all alone in a psychiatric facility.

And he had no say in any of it.

He loved her more than life itself, but he wasn't her next of kin. Sam was. And Sam didn't really give a hoot what Clark wanted.

Clark amended his statement in his head as he stood and began to pace circles around his couch. It wasn't that Sam didn't care about what Clark wanted, it was that he thought he knew what was best for Lois. He knew of a doctor at this hospital who was supposed to be tops in the field, really cutting edge.

Clark tried to remember the name of the man Sam had recommended — Dexter? He couldn't remember and it didn't really matter.

He was only going to be allowed to see Lois every other day.

That was what mattered.

Why had he agreed to that?!

He opened the fridge and saw the cream soda he'd put in there weeks ago for Lois. Her clone hadn't liked it much and most of the six-pack was still left. He could bear no more small reminders and closed the door as though shutting out everything that would remind him of her.

His sharp vision caught sight of something sticking out from under the refrigerator. He pulled it out and saw the handwriting of Lois' clone. It was similar to Lois' but different enough that he could tell the difference.

She hadn't been Lois, there was no doubt of that, but she had saved him. She had saved him and his mother and Lois, too. She had been childlike in wanting to kill Lois, but as mature as anyone he knew when she willingly helped him escape the grasp of Luthor.

What message could she be sending him from beyond the grave? No doubt it was some sort of apology for spilling his secret to Luthor, but while it certainly wouldn't have been Clark's first choice, he understood why she had done it and he bore her no hard feelings, especially since Luthor was dead.

She had been annoying, that was certain, but in an odd sort of way, he missed her.

>>>>Dear Clark,

By the time you read this, I'll be gone. I only have a few hours left to live, if what Lex said is true and I'm sure it is.

I'm no Lois Lane. I know that now. I hope I was able to help you find her and that the two of you will be happy.

I also know that I could never have been a good wife to you — even if we had been legally married. Lex didn't have us switched until after Lois had signed the marriage license, so I guess technically I was living with a married man. Even a clone like me knows there's something wrong with that.

I do love you, Clark. Not the same way Lois does, I'm sure, but I do. As much as I know how to love and that I learned from you. Thank you for making my few days here better than they would have been if I'd stayed with Lex.<<<<

It wasn't signed. Maybe she didn't know how to sign it. She really wasn't Lois, but that was the only name anyone had ever called her by. Mostly, he just hadn't used a name at all when speaking to her after he discovered that she was a clone.

He reread it a little more slowly and this time something stuck out at him.

Lois hadn't been switched until *after* she had signed the papers.

That meant…

Clark didn't want to grasp onto the thin lifeline that was being thrown to him for fear it would snap. It wouldn't give Lois her memory back, but just to know, in his heart, that they were married…

If that were true, it would mean the world to him.


"Sam, she says she's in love with Deter!"

Clark could barely control his rage. This was an unacceptable turn of events.

"Clark, calm down. It's transference, plain and simple." Sam Lane shrugged. "She'll get over it before too long. They always do."

"Like Ellen did?" He knew, even as he said it that the two situations were nothing alike, but he didn't really care.

"She was my nurse, not my patient, and she did get over it. It just took her a while."

"This is not acceptable, Sam. I want her to see someone else!"

Sam sighed. "Clark, I love her just as much as you do. I know I haven't always been the father she wanted, or needed, and I'm not the best at showing my love, but Deter is one of the best and I only want what's best for her. She is my daughter, you know."

"But she's *my WIFE*."

"Clark, the clone was at the wedding, not Lois. It's not legal." He shook his head sadly. "I know it's not what you want, but I have to do what I think is best for her. Please understand."

"No, Sam. You understand. *Lois* signed the marriage license and *that* makes her my wife and I'm going to prove it. As soon as I do, she's out of that facility and away from Deter."

Clark stood and turned away from Sam, slamming the door behind him as he left.

Sam sighed. What a mess. First Ellen had to go to a mountain hideaway to get out of the city with the clone fiasco and now this. What next?

Clark turned and stared out the window into the pit and then pulled her engagement ring out of his pocket and sighed as he stared at it, imagining it on her finger where it belonged. He was going to have to confront Deter sooner or later, and it seemed that sooner would be better.

"Put that away, Clark." The voice of his editor startled him. He'd practically forgotten that Perry was here too. Well, it was Perry's office after all.

It had a calming effect on him really. Perry had been a voice of reason in his life for almost 3 years now and in Lois' for much longer than that.

"I can't do this."

"You're gonna have to ride it out, son. I know it's hard."

Clark put the ring back in his pocket. "I don't know how to talk to her. Deter says almost anything I do could set her back. That just being around could hurt her. I want to help. But I can't get close. I can't do anything."

"And you don't trust the guy?"


"Well, I trust him and Sam trusts him. And you should trust our judgment. I've been around long enough to tell snake oil from shinola and I know Deter's selling the real deal."

He heard her heartbeat before the elevator doors opened and then there she was. She walked in, unsure of herself and then she headed towards her desk. He watched her sit down and begin to poke around in the drawers.

"Sam, she's here." Perry headed out the door first, followed closely by Sam Lane.

Clark stood there staring as hugs were shared all around. He was surprised when a delivery boy stopped next to Lois' desk. Who could be sending her flowers? He certainly hadn't.

He slipped his glasses down just a bit and read the card. "Thinking of you," he muttered. "Deter."

Jimmy's head popped in the office. "Phone call for you, CK. Line one."

"Thanks, Jimmy."

He walked to the desk and picked up the phone. "Clark Kent."

He'd been waiting for this call. The results he wanted were finally in. He had taken samples of handwriting and the marriage license to a specialist. The handwriting specialist confirmed the handwriting on the license was Lois', not the clone's. He also had the clone's note and the license analyzed by a friend at the police forensics lab. The fingerprints on the license belonged to Lois.

He had checked — surreptitiously — the law on the matter. It appeared — in New Troy, at least — that the wedding ceremony was just that, ceremony. All that really mattered, legally, were the signatures on the marriage license.

He hung up the phone and gave a silent cheer. The messenger would be here any minute with the papers giving him power of attorney.

He closed his eyes letting it sink in. He and Lois were legally married and he could prove it to anyone who would ask. The question running through his mind now was should he tell Sam and assert his rights as Lois' husband and next of kin or trust his father-in-law's judgment about her treatment? Sam *did* have access to the latest medical research and Deter *had* come highly recommended. And as Deter had explained to Superman, transference happened all the time. It wouldn't be long before Lois regained her memory and Deter was history.

He was amazed at how clear his head was. The thinking he had done over night while sitting near the hospital so he could keep an eye on his wife must have helped. He'd gone over everything from every angle and had come to no real conclusion, except that he couldn't go off half-cocked. If he did, he could drive Lois even further from her memories and that was the last thing he wanted, wife or not.

The idea was still so foreign to him. After everything that had happened, everything that had gone wrong in the last two weeks, he was still married to Lois. It would take legal action and months for anything to change that. As he had watched her the previous night, it was hard for him not to imagine how different things would have been in his apartment two weeks earlier, if it had really been Lois and not a clone.

He couldn't let himself get sidetracked. He had to take care of Lois, not indulge in fantasies about what might have been and what still would be. He shook his head and tried to focus on the matter at hand.

What was he going to do about Deter?

A young brunette stuck her head in the door. "Clark, here's the research you asked for."

Clark took it from her. "Thanks, Sarah." He didn't notice her appreciative look up and down his body. He looked up from the folder. Deter had arrived and was chatting amiably with Lois, Sam and Perry. He sighed. It was time to make his presence known.

He hung around the background unable to play kissy-poo with Deter. He knew if that guy said the wrong thing…

Perry snapped him out of his reverie. "Clark, why don't you and Lois go out for lunch and talk about some of the stories you've got going and see what she thinks would help her get back in the sing of things."

"Sure, Chief. Sounds good." And now he could get her away from the creep.


Clark growled as they left Missy's Mid-day Munchies — a little restaurant near the Planet that specialized in quick lunches for business people on the go. Perry had suggested they go out for lunch to make some plans to get Lois 'back in the swing of things' but Deter had insisted on going with them so they hadn't had a chance to really talk. Missy, a long time fan of Lois and Clark — and Superman, for that matter — had almost said something about their previously pending nuptials. Unfortunately, Deter had interrupted her.

Lois sighed. "That was… long, but pointless. We didn't decide on anything that would be good for me to do."

Clark mumbled under his breath. "Well, I had plenty of ideas, but someone didn't like any of them." Then louder. "Where to next?"

Deter chimed in. "I have a thought on that."

Clark glared at him. "Oh, joy…"

Deter stopped next to his car. "Lois, I want you to come with me. Clark can drive your car back to the Planet. This little field test is over."

"Max, I'm fine."

"No, you're not, but you will be…"

Clark watched as Deter placed a gentle hand on her cheek. Enough was enough. Only he was allowed to touch her like that!

"… if you listen to me."

Clark swung Deter around by his shoulder. "Okay, that's it, Deter. Back it up!"

"Clark, I'm not going to keep having this conversation with you."

"That's right, because this conversation is over. I want Lois to see another doctor."


"I want a second opinion."

Deter raised an eyebrow at him. "*You* want? I'm sorry, do you own this woman?"

"No, but neither do you."

"So what gives you the right to decide what's best for her? Her father is her next of kin and he…"

"No, Deter," Clark could barely spit out the name. "He's not. I am."

"Excuse me?" Deter scowled at Clark as his cell phone pulled him away from the conversation.

Clark turned to Lois and reiterated what he'd just said. "I'm your next of kin."

Lois glared at him. "I don't know what you're talking about, Clark, but my father thinks Max is the best thing for me and I trust him. The state doesn't trust me to make my own decisions yet, but if I did, I'd trust my dad."

"Lois, you haven't trusted your dad since you were twelve."

Lois rolled her eyes. "Of course you're going to say that. You don't trust Max and my dad does. And even if I don't trust my dad, I trust Perry, don't I?"

"What about your husband? Would you trust him?"

Lois turned to look him square in the eyes. "If I'm married then where is my…" she spit the next word. "… husband? Why hasn't he come to visit me? And why has my dad been making the decisions? Surely the courts would have my…" More spitting. "… husband do it?" She glared at him. "*If* I was really married that is."

Clark tugged gently at her elbow and led a reluctant Lois along the sidewalk. "I couldn't prove it until this morning." He ran a hand through his hair. "It's a long story, Lois, but in a nutshell, you're married." He pointed a finger to himself and then to her. "*We're* married."

Lois stopped in her tracks. "What?"

"Like I said, long story. Lex Luthor switched you with a clone so we couldn't get married and through a series of events, you were hit on the head, twice. The first time you forgot who you were and the second time is where your memory starts now. The clone, who I thought was you for a while, left me a note before she died saying that the switch didn't take place until *after* you signed the marriage license. In New Troy, that makes us legally married. I had a handwriting expert and fingerprint analyst verify it. We're legally married."

He turned to face her, saddened by the shocked look on her face. One hand reached to gently cradle her cheek. "I know it's a lot to take in, and I know it's not what you think you want right now, and this certainly isn't the reaction I wanted when I told you, but it's the honest truth.

"I know you, Lois, better than anyone, and I know that you don't like it when people tiptoe around you and hide things from you. I know you think you love Deter, but I don't trust him." He let out a deep breath. "Aren't you going to say something?"

"I don't know what to say, Clark." She turned and started walking slowly down the sidewalk. "I hardly know you, but we're married?" The disbelief was evident in her voice.


"And you don't trust the man that I love?"

"That's just it, Lois. I don't think you really love him, and I think he's taking advantage of your vulnerable state." He inhaled deeply. "And as your husband, I'm your next of kin, and I have to do what I think is best for you." He stopped and turned her to face him. "I know you don't remember it now, but the fact that you signed that marriage license has to mean something to you. Can you please trust me?"

"How do I know you didn't make me sign it? How do I know we were really in love and that I wasn't desperate or something?"

"Ask anyone. Perry, Jimmy, my folks, your folks…"

"Then why didn't your parents come to see me?"

"Deter wouldn't let them."

"I find that hard to believe, Clark." The edge in her voice showed a touch of the old Lois. "And why didn't you come see me more often?"


Lois was working herself into a full rant. "I mean, if you're really my husband, which I have serious doubts about, then why didn't you come see me more often? Why didn't you tell me?"


"I find it hard to believe that a man I would be willing to marry would be such a wimp and let a doctor push him around. Superman came to see me more than you did!"


"Flowers would have been nice."


She turned to face him. "And if we're married…" She stuck her left hand in his face. "… where's my ring?!"

"The clone…"

"You have an excuse for everything, don't you?"

"If you'd just listen to me for a minute…"

"I think she's listened to you enough, Clark." A third voice entered the conversation.

Clark turned to face the intruder. "You listen to me, Deter. I'm her husband. We were legally married two weeks ago and I've decided that I want her to see another doctor."

"I don't believe you. If you were married, you would have said something a long time ago."

Clark reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. "I went to see the judge in charge of Lois' case yesterday. He said if I could prove I was her husband, he'd grant me legal guardianship. I sent the paperwork over this morning." He shoved it under Deter's nose. "Read it closely, Deter. It says that I get to make decisions regarding her care until they determine if she's fit to do so."

Deter took the piece of paper. "We'll see about this."

Lois moved to his side, her hand gripping his arm. "What does it say, Max?"

Deter sighed. "It says that Clark is legally your next of kin and that he has the power to make decisions regarding your care until the hearing next week." He patted her hand gently. "You have to go with him now, Lois. I have a meeting with a patient that I can't get out of. But we'll find a way to fight this if that's what you want. Only *you* should be allowed to make decisions about your care, but I can't break the law, any more than Superman can."

A tear ran down Lois' cheek.

Max gently removed her hand from his arm. "Clark can make you see another doctor, Clark can change things in midstream and interfere with your recovery." He wiped the tear off her face. "Clark…"

Clark stepped between the two. "That's enough, Deter. Get your hands off my wife or I'll have your license."

The whimper in Lois' voice broke Clark's heart. "Max…"

"Go, Deter."

Deter looked into Lois' eyes, then sadly turned to walk away.

Clark turned his attention back to Lois, only to find her halfway down the block.

He sighed and took off after her, knowing he could catch her at any moment if he wanted to. At the end of the street, his long strides caught up with her shorter ones.

He gently grabbed her shoulders. "Lois…"

She wrenched away from him. "Don't touch me," she hissed, as she swiped at the hot tears running down her cheeks.


"I don't care what you think is best, Clark. You just sent away the man I love and I want nothing to do with you." She started to walk off. "Ever."

Clark stuck his hands in the pockets of his pants and hung his head as she walked away. He knew Lois even if she didn't know herself very well yet and he knew that he'd made a big mistake confronting Lois and Deter like he had, but he also knew that the best thing for her was to get her away from that slime.

Now all he had to do was convince her of that.


Clark followed Lois and hovered, keeping a close eye on her as she went to the gym. He watched silently as she viciously attacked the heavy punching bag. His sensitive hearing could pick up her mutterings. She was obviously upset and Clark could only be glad that she was taking out her frustrations on the bag rather than his invulnerable hide. He winced as a roundhouse kick landed squarely where his chest would be.

Finally, she appeared exhausted and she walked away from the bag, but only after one final kick and then a brutal shove as it swung back towards her. He watched the entrance to the women's locker room waiting for her to come back out. Half an hour later she emerged, bundled up against the February chill. He followed from high above as she stopped at a newsstand and picked up some Double Fudge Crunch Bars. Not a good sign. She also stopped at a hot dog cart and bought a Mango Madness Snapple — her favorite.

He was disappointed when she headed back to the hospital, but he supposed it made sense. It was the only home she'd known, well, for as long as she could remember. He watched as she locked her door and threw herself on the bed. It broke his heart to see her crying but he couldn't go to her, not yet. He made sure that Deter was with a patient, and a quick glance at the schedule on the desk confirmed that Deter's afternoon was completely booked with patients — none of whom were named Lois Lane — Clark flew to the courthouse.

He returned as quickly as he could, but at least half an hour had passed. The first place he checked was Lois' room. His heart stopped as he saw that the room was empty.

His worst fears were confirmed when she entered Deter's office. He could barely stand to watch as she threw herself into another man's arms and kissed him hungrily.

Visions of Deter flying headlong off a cliff flitted through his mind, but Superman couldn't do such things. His super hearing zoned in on the conversation taking place below.



~He says he's my husband, Max.~

~So does the judge, darling.~

~What are we going to do?~

He fought the urge to fly down there and whisk Lois away, wipe her tears and then kiss her senseless. Surely that would bring back her memory, wouldn't it? He'd give Deter one more chance to redeem himself.

~Lois, the best thing we can do is get your memory back and then there won't be a need for a guardian and we can do whatever we want. You can divorce that scum, or annul the marriage or have it declared illegal or something and we can be together.~

~You're right. That's got to be the best way to get him off my back.~ Clark saw her rest her hands on his chest. ~What can we do?~

~I could hypnotize you. Bring back your memory that way.~

He saw Lois nod slowly. ~Okay. Let's do it.~

A few minutes later, Lois was under hypnosis.

~Deeper. Down you go. Everything's calm. Everything's quiet. There's no confusion here. How do you feel?~

~All right.~

~You're almost there… You're drifting… I want you to find yourself in a calm, quiet place. Hearing only the sound of my voice. That's good. Now listen very carefully. The idea that you're married to Clark is ludicrous to you. Forget all of the things you used to love — Clark, the Planet — it's time to move on.~

What was he doing?! Deter was brainwashing Lois!!

So much for that last chance.

Clark flew down to a nearby deserted area, changing clothes as he rushed to the hospital, all the time keeping his hearing attuned to what went on in that office.

~Move on.~

~You know only one truth now. You love only me.~

~Only you.~

Clark burst into the office. "That's enough, Deter. You were told explicitly not to see her anymore and now you're brainwashing her?"

Lois had snapped out of her trance. "What are you talking about, Clark? I love Max, not you. Now leave me alone and get out of here!"

"I can't do that, Lois. And Deter can't do what he's been trying to do. He's legally bound to not see you anymore."

Lois pushed Clark away from Deter. "Not professionally maybe, but he can certainly see me personally."

A nurse interrupted the conversation. "Dr. Deter, this just came for you."

He took the piece of paper from her hand and opened it. "You're a no good piece of trash, Kent."

Lois moved to his side. "What is it, Max?"

He handed it to her while staring at Clark. "It's from the judge. You're being removed from the hospital and my care and if I come within 100 feet of you, I'll be held in contempt."


Superman flew through the air with Lois in his arms.

"Where are you taking me?"

"To see the Kents in Kansas. Clark asked me to."

"Why didn't we take a plane?"

He shrugged. "I'm faster and cheaper than any airline and you and Clark are close friends of mine. I'll be bringing him a few minutes after we land."

"You're my friend, right, Superman?"

"You're the one who named me."

Lois smiled. "I remember that part."

"So, you could say we were friends, I guess."

Her finger played with his cape where it attached to the suit. "Was there ever… anything between us?"

"Anything? You mean anything romantic?"

"Yeah. I think I remember kissing you."

"We kissed on… more than one occasion."

"So are you in love with me too?"

Superman stared straight ahead, not daring to look at her. "It's complicated, Lois. You and Clark are meant for each other. I'm… I can't… I'm not in a position to care for anyone."

"But you care for me." It wasn't a question.

He sighed and worded his answer very carefully. "As Superman, I care for you more than I should."

"But you do care?"

"We're almost there. It's that farmhouse right there." He nodded in the direction of the farm below.

They landed on the lawn in front of the house.

"Go on inside."

"Are they expecting me?"

"I don't think Clark's been able to get a hold of them, but they'll love to see you."

At just that moment, Martha stepped out on the porch. Her eyes lit up as she saw the two of them there. "Lois! Cla…" she stopped at the shake of her son's head. "Clark left a message that you would be coming." She turned to the superhero. "Thank you for dropping her off. You'll be back with Clark soon right?"

Clark nodded and took off into the sky.


"Lois, would you like a glass of water?" Martha wasn't quite sure how to talk to the young lady at her table, the woman who was — and wasn't — her new daughter-in-law.

"Do you have some buttermilk?"

"Sure, honey." Martha stood.

"It's good for what ails you." Lois' voice had a far off quality to it.

"Yes, it is!" Surprise was evident in Martha's voice.

"I don't know how I know that."

Martha set a full glass in front of her. "Jonathan says it all the time. I bet you heard it from Clark."

Lois took a sip and then stared into the glass. "I don't remember much about Clark at all." She sighed. "I remember some things… working together, some of the stories we wrote, but nothing… personal."

Martha sat across from her and reached out to briefly cover one hand with her own. "It'll come back to you."

"I married him, right?"

Martha sighed. "Sort of. You signed the marriage license but the clone of you was at the wedding."

"Did I want to marry Clark?" Lois fiddled with the tablecloth.

"Of course."

"Did Clark want to marry me?"

"More than anything in the world."

"He seems so mad all the time."

Martha covered Lois' hands with her own. "He's been… frustrated. And scared. He loves you and you don't think you love him. He's afraid that everything the two of you have is lost — gone forever. Can't you understand how that must feel for him?"

Lois nodded slowly. "I guess, but I don't remember any of it. All I know is that I love Max."

"I can only imagine how it hurts him to hear you say that, Lois. After everything the two of you went through to be together and suddenly you want nothing to do with him."

"I've been to his apartment. There's no pictures of us, no mementos of us at all. If I mean that much to him why doesn't he have more things of 'us' around?"

Martha knew she would have to word this carefully. Lois thought she was in love with this Deter fellow and to try to make him look bad in Lois' eyes would probably only backfire. "Well," she answered slowly, "Clark was told that reminders of your feelings for him would only make things worse, so he put everything away, for your own good."

"Who would tell him a ridiculous thing like that? Things that would remind me of what was apparently a powerful emotion, would only help, wouldn't it? I did a story once…" Lois shook her head. "I didn't remember that story a minute ago. I know I didn't."

"So your memory is coming back?"

Lois sighed. "Slowly. In fits and spurts. I remember the story and I remember it was WCK but we didn't write it together."


"With Clark Kent. That's how Jimmy categorized my stories — BCK and WCK."


"This story… I remember…" Lois stood and began to pace around the kitchen. "All the research says that reminders of the amnesiac's former life are good for them. That it helps to have familiar things around. Why would someone tell Clark otherwise?"

Martha shrugged. She thought she knew why — that Deter fellow was scum of the earth — but didn't feel she could say.

Boots thumping on the porch stopped any further conversation. Jonathan entered the kitchen followed closely by Clark.

Clark found his eyes immediately looking for Lois, as they always seemed to. He was drawn to her — he always had been and always would be. He didn't find the open hostility there he expected but there wasn't a welcoming glow either. He walked towards his mom and kissed her on the cheek, letting himself be drawn into her motherly embrace.

"She's still in there somewhere," she whispered to him.

He nodded grateful for the encouragement. This had been the right decision, bringing Lois here.


"I don't understand why we're up here." Lois scrambled up the last rung and into the hayloft, lit only by the ambient light of the moon and the stars.

"She wants us to find the kittens that are missing and Dad apparently has a bum knee." Clark shrugged as he climbed after her. "You don't argue with Mom."

Lois laughed. "Not your mom anyway. I argued with my mom plenty."

"You remember?" he asked softly.

"I remember lots of things, Clark."

"Just not me." It wasn't even a question. He already knew the answer. She remembered everything but him. If he could only get his hands on that Deter…


Lois' voice brought him back to the present. "Yeah?"

"Why is there mistletoe in the hayloft?"

He looked up and smiled softly to himself. "I put it there."

Lois raised an eyebrow at him. "Why?"

He sat on the blanket that was spread on the hay. He picked up a piece of straw and fiddled with it as he spoke. "I put it up before we came out for Christmas last year. The first Christmas we worked together, Cat put some mistletoe up in the newsroom and we had a conversation about kissing in the hayloft. That first year we tested out a hay bale in my apartment. Last year we came up here to test it out."

"We did?"


"Did I… we like it?"

Clark grinned at her. "Oh, yeah."

Lois sat on the blanket, but he noticed she placed herself as far from him as she could without making it too obvious that she didn't want to be too close to him.

Clark laid his head back and stared at the stars out the window. It was so like it had been, but so different.

"Tell me about it."

Her voice was so soft that he almost didn't hear her.

He rolled onto his side and propped himself up on one elbow. "Well, it was a surprise. Mom sent us up here to…" He cleared his throat. "…find some kittens." He hung his head sheepishly. "I'd asked her to, but she knew what I really wanted. She'd seen the mistletoe already."

"What did I do when I saw it?"

"You laughed. Your wonderful laugh. Then you threw some hay at me, called me a farmboy and we had a hay fight."

"Who won?"

"We both did."

She looked at him quizzically.

"Let's just say we didn't throw hay at each other for long."

A look of realization spread across her face. "Ah." She plopped back so she was staring up at the mistletoe. "Did we put it to good use?"

"Put what to good use?"

"The mistletoe."

Clark turned crimson as he remembered that night. "Uh, yeah. We did." If it hadn't been for a kitten crawling over the two of them…

Lois laughed.


"You're three shades of red, Clark."

"So?" He stared at the piece of straw in his hand.

Lois giggled and reached for a handful of hay. Impulsively, she threw it in his direction.

It caught him off guard, but in a pleasant sort of way. "HEY!"

She giggled again. "We're in a hayloft, silly." She scooped up another handful and let it slowly drift down over his head.

A growl came from deep in his throat. "You asked for it."

He reached behind him and grabbed a handful of hay himself. He tossed it in her direction.

She scrambled to her feet, reaching for more as she did.

Next thing he knew, it was a full blown hay fight, just like the one they'd had before.

He chased her around the hayloft, until he caught her by the arm, careful as always to control his strength. He held a large handful over her head and began to let it trickle slowly out of his fingers.

She giggled and squirmed, trying to get out of his grasp.

He continued to let the hay trickle out. "You know, if you don't stop fighting, I'll be forced to take more drastic measures."

She still struggled. "Like what?"

An impish light appeared in his eyes. "I'll have to stuff some down your shirt."

Her eyes widened slightly, but she couldn't stop laughing. "You wouldn't."

He nodded solemnly. "I would."

"You wouldn't."

"Try me!"

She tried again to wiggle out of his grasp.

"You asked for it!"

In one swift move, he pinned her against his chest.

One arm held her tight to his chest and the other hand shoved hay down the back of her shirt.

He heard a loud 'eep' amidst her laughter and she wriggled away. "CLARK!" She untucked her shirt and started shaking the hay out.

"I warned you."

"Clark, help me."

Clark laughed and brushed her shoulders as she tried to get the hay out from under her shirt.

She was still laughing and she asked again that he help her get rid of the hay.

He swallowed hard and knelt down to brush at her jeans, bits of straw floating down on top of his head. His gaze moved slightly and he found himself face to face with her belly button. He stood slowly, his hands running up the outside of her body until they rested on her hips and their faces were inches from each other.

She hadn't stopped laughing until she looked up at him. He heard her breath catch in her throat and she reached up to rest one hand on his chest as though to push him away, but instead it tugged slightly on his shirt until he moved even closer to her.

Her breath was warm on his lips as she whispered, "We're under the mistletoe."

He didn't even look up. "Yes, we are."

"I guess that means we should kiss."

His faced moved imperceptibly closer to hers. "I guess we should." He lowered his lips to hers and gently brushed against them. He felt more than heard her gentle sigh and she pressed her body closer to his, her hands running up his arms until they caressed his shoulders.

Her mouth opened slightly to suck gently on his lip. He wrapped one arm around her, his hand sliding along the waistband of her jeans, his thumb slightly above it touching her soft skin. He held her tightly, his other arm outstretched as he lowered them gently to the blanket on the hay.

She offered no objection, but her lips continued to stroke his. Her tongue ran lightly along his lip asking silently for access. He opened his lips a little wider and shifted slightly so his body wouldn't crush hers as they lay there.

Her hands continued to run over his shoulders and down his arms, sending shivers of delight throughout his body. He ran one hand up over the denim-clad hip of the woman he loved until he reached bare skin.

He hesitated, but a small moan from Lois urged him on. His hand slid under her shirt and he rubbed lightly the skin just above her waist.

When she didn't protest, but deepened the kiss he grew a little bolder. He shifted slightly again so he lay along her side, one leg intertwined with hers.

His lips stopped suddenly as something landed on his head. A 'mreow' in his ear broke the mood and Lois suddenly pushed away from him.

She rolled herself into a sitting position then stood, tucking her shirt in as she went.

Clark flopped back onto the blanket, his eyes following her every move.

He could hear mumbled curses under her breath as she tried to finish tucking it in. With an exasperated sound, she finally gave up and untucked it all together so it hung loose over her jeans.

She walked towards the ladder, not speaking till just before she started down. "I'm sorry, Clark. I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. I'm sorry I let things get so out of hand." She paused and it sounded as though she was going to say something else, but she left without another word.


Lois sat on the swing under the oak tree. She had grabbed a blanket before she left the barn and wrapped it around her to ward off the chill of the February night. She pulled her knees into her chest and let the breeze push the swing for her.

She loved Max.

She knew she did.

So why had kissing Clark make her forget everything but him?

She had yearned for him to touch her, to cradle her in his arms, pull her to him. She had felt physical pain waiting for his kiss. The feel of his strong body so close to hers stirred some memories in her but there was no one for her but Max. No one. Her mind kept telling her that over and over, but her body had rebelled, responding to his every touch.

It was dark where she was sitting, but the moon illuminated most of the yard. She watched as Clark exited the barn and walked towards the fence surrounding a paddock.

She watched as he stood still for a moment, then put both arms in the air. Her heart stopped, literally, as he rocketed into the sky.

What in the world?

She stared after him then stood and walked to where he had been, her eyes never leaving his track in the sky.

Footsteps crunched in the snow behind her.

Jonathan's husky voice broke the still air. "Beautiful night, isn't it?"

"He… He… flew."

"I expect he did."

"But he flew."

"He does that on a regular basis."

"But… but… how?"

"You're a smart woman, Lois. I bet you can figure it out."

She was silent for a few minutes. "The only person who can fly is Superman."

"As far as I know."

"So…" She was having a hard time wrapping around the idea that had formed in her head. "Superman is Clark?" She shook her head as though trying to get rid of some cobwebs.

"Well, he'd say 'Clark is Superman'."

"What's the difference?"

Jonathan laughed. "That's what we'd like to know. It drives Martha nuts when he talks about himself in the third person, but to Clark the distinction is very important. Clark has existed since he was born. Clark is the one who grew up here, who works at the Daily Planet, who married you. Superman is…"

Lois interrupted him. "Superman is the cardboard cutout, the action hero, the impersonal persona that allows him to have a life outside the suit. Clark is who he is, Superman is what he can do." /How did I know that?/ The thought crossed her mind, as she tried desperately to recall things that seemed just out of reach.

"Something like that."

Lois walked to the fence. "So he did come to see me more often."

Jonathan opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again, deciding that Lois was just thinking out loud.

"Superman said that he was always watching over me, even when Clark couldn't be around." She turned to face him. "Why couldn't Clark be around more? Martha said 'someone'…" She made quote marks in the air. "… told him not to. Told him to stay away, to put away all personal reminders of us. Who told him that?"

"Um… well… he never said specifically…"

Her voice took on a warning tone. "Jonathan Kent, tell me who told him to stay away!"

Jonathan laughed.

She looked irritated. "What?"

"Lois, you're sounding more and more like yourself every minute."

"So who was it?"

Jonathan sighed. "It was Deter. He told Martha and me that we couldn't see you either."

"Why would he do that?" Lois was genuinely puzzled. "He's my doctor. Why wouldn't he want me to see Clark, my fiancee — we thought — or my almost in-laws?"

"I don't know, Lois. Why would he? You've done stories on psychiatrists before. You worked with him, what do you think?"

Lois started walking slowly, one gloved hand clutching the blanket around her and the other trailing along the top of a fence. Jonathan walked a couple feet to one side of her, there if she needed a sounding board or someone to ask a question, but far enough away to give her the space she needed.

Lois thought about everything that had happened in the short time she had been under Max's care. Had he ever behaved oddly around her?

Well, he had sent her flowers. That was odd. Dr. Friskin certainly would never have done that.

Dr. Friskin.

She remembered Dr. Friskin. She remembered talking to Dr. Friskin when she was confused about Dan and Clark and Superman. She must not have known that Clark was Superman.

"Jonathan, did I know that Clark was Superman?"


"How long have I known?"

"Since he proposed, almost a year ago now."

"Hmmm…" So she hadn't seen Dr. Friskin when she knew who Clark really was. Had she had any kind of relationship with Dr. Friskin, except for a couple of visits when she didn't know who she really wanted?

No, she'd never seen Dr. Friskin outside the office, and Lois had noticed that there had always been a professional distance between them.

Max hadn't done that. He had insinuated himself into her personal life. Come to think of it… It was very unprofessional of him to have any kind of personal relationship with her.

And why did she have an urge to move to France?

She'd never wanted to move to France before. Clark had taken her once. They'd dined in a little bistro and they'd gone to the top of the Eiffel Tower. They'd stopped in Switzerland to get some chocolate on the way back.

She stopped dead in her tracks.

Jonathan looked at her, concerned. "What is it, Lois?"

"I remember."


"I remember Clark flying me to Paris for dinner one night." Her brow furrowed as she wracked her brain. "But that's it, nothing else."

"It'll come back to you."

She started walking again. "I seem to do my best thinking when I walk."

"Clark's said that about you. That you've about worn a path in the carpet in his apartment."

"He really loves me, doesn't he?" Her voice was soft in the crisp night air.

"More than life itself, Lois."

"He kissed me earlier."

"I don't doubt it. The mistletoe was still in the hayloft, wasn't it?"

Lois blushed as she remembered where the kiss had started to lead.

"I felt something when he did."

"Electricity? You two have enough electricity to light Metropolis, Lois. You always have, even before you were a couple."

She nodded. "So why do I think Max is the only one for me?"

He shook his head. "I can't answer that, Lois."

She thought back over the last couple of days. Clark had said something… /That's enough, Deter. You were told explicitly not to see her anymore and now you're brainwashing her?/


Could it be true?

She had brushed the comment aside earlier, knowing Clark couldn't have heard what was going on in the room, but now that she remembered Clark was Superman… Could he have been listening in on her session with Deter? She didn't even realize that her thinking had shifted subtly. He wasn't Max anymore, he was Deter.

The thought should make her mad, but somehow it comforted her that he was looking out for her.

/You love only me./

She could hear Deter's voice in her head.

"That scumbag!" She stopped dead in her tracks.

"Excuse me?"

"Deter brainwashed me! I remember! He hypnotized me and told me that I loved no one but him." She snorted. "Yeah, right. I'll show him what love is."

"You remember something that happened under hypnosis?"

She shook her head. "I do. That's kind of odd, isn't it?"

Jonathan shrugged.

"Well, Clark interrupted the session and I came out of it rather suddenly… maybe that's why?"

"Could be." He started walking again as she did. "Anything else coming to you?"

She shook her head. "Not yet." A yawn interrupted her. "I think I'm ready to head back. I've had enough for one night."

They turned and headed towards the farmhouse. There was a streak in the night sky and a boom as Clark returned to Kansas.

They were nearing the porch when Jonathan stopped. "Lois, before we go in… I want you to know that we love you. Martha and I think of you as our daughter and no matter what happens, we're always here for you."

Lois nodded and stepped in to give him a hug. "I know, Jonathan. Thank you. You've been more of a father to me the last couple years than my own dad, and I love you for it."

He kept one arm around her as they headed up the walk. "Dang wind on a cold night." He cleared his throat gruffly and swiped at his face with the back of his hand. "Wreaks havoc on your eyes."

Lois chuckled softly and then her feet suddenly went out from underneath her.

Her last conscious thought before she struck her head was that it was happening again.


It was warm.

She was cozy.

There was a weight, not unpleasant, spread uniformly over her body.

There was also the scent of something wonderful entering her nostrils.

It was a familiar smell.

It drew her out of the blackness that enveloped her and into the dimly lit room with muffled sounds outside.

She blinked slowly several times.

Something shifted off to her right.

With great effort, she turned to see what it was.

The shape began to be recognizable.


Her voice was a hoarse whisper but it was enough.

Instantly, he was at her side.

"Lois? Are you okay?"


He reached for a glass of water and helped her sit up enough to sip from it.


She nodded and pushed herself into a sitting position against the headboard. "What happened, Clark?"

"You and Dad were walking and you slipped on a patch of ice and hit your head. Do you remember?"

She thought hard. It was fuzzy but she remembered walking with Jonathan. "Yeah, I think so."

"What else do you remember?"

She thought for another minute and then a smile crossed her face. "I remember you taking me to the hayloft, flyboy."

"You do?"

"Yep. I remember you trying to get frisky with me, too."

Clark blushed and looked at her hand that he held gently in his own.

"Nothing to say to that?"

"I'm sorry."

"For what?" She was genuinely puzzled.

"I know it's not what you really wanted." His face was heavy. "You want to be with… another man."

"Oh, Clark." She reached out and lifted his face to look him in the eyes. "There's never been anyone but you for me."


"I remember everything, Clark, including Deter trying to hypnotize me and tell me that I loved him, but mostly I remember you."


"Yes, you, silly. I remember meeting you for the first time in Perry's office. I remember you flying me through the window at the Daily Planet. I remember you proposing. I remember proposing to you. I remember signing the marriage license. I remember Lex, the clone, everything."

"Everything?" She could see him struggling not to get his hopes up.

"Yes, you lunkhead. Everything." She grinned at him. "And if you don't kiss me soon, you'll wish I didn't."

He didn't need another invitation. He leaned over and his lips met hers in a sweet caress and a promise of something more to come later.

He pulled back. "I have something for you." He reached into the drawer beside the bed and pulled out a box. "Here."

She opened it and tears began to well up in her eyes. "Oh, Clark." Inside were three rings. "Put them on for me?"

She held out her hand and Clark slipped the engagement ring over her finger. He kissed her fingers and then, as he slid the wedding band on, he spoke reverently. "With this ring, I thee wed."

"Oh, Clark." The tears rolled down her cheeks. She reached in and pulled his wedding ring out. She took his hand and placed his ring on his left hand. "With this ring, I *thee* wed."

He pulled her face back to his own and kissed her gently. "I love you, Lois Lane."

"I love you, Clark Kent. Now if we don't get some of that coffee…"

"How 'bout I take you home instead?"

Lois giggled. "Whatever you want."


"…and so that last hit on the head must have brought everything back. I mean I was starting to remember anyway, but it was like last night jarred it all back into place."

"Oh, honey, that's wonderful!" Martha opened her arms to Lois for a warm hug.

Lois held on to Martha for a long minute and then turned to Jonathan. "And thank you. You were exactly what I needed last night." She threw her arms around him. She held onto him and then whispered in his ear, "Thanks… Dad."

Jonathan swiped at his eyes. "Dang wind…," he mumbled.

Lois laughed and moved back to Clark. She stood in front of him, his arms wrapped around her, holding her close.

"Well, you two really should head home now." Martha had a gleam in her eye. "It is Clark's birthday, after all."

"Mom!" "Martha!"

"Oh, so Jonathan gets to be dad, but I'm still 'Martha'?" Her eyes twinkled merrily.

Lois giggled. "Okay, Mom."

"Now you two get out of here. We'll celebrate your birthday next week, son."

Clark leaned over to kiss Martha on the cheek. "Thanks, Mom. Now…" A broad smile crossed his face. "I'm taking my bride home."

Before Martha and Jonathan could say anything else, they were gone, a gust of wind stirring the curtains at the window.

The elder Kents laughed. Martha leaned against her husband as they stared at the fluttering fabric. "Oh, to be young and able to fly."


Clark floated them through the window of her apartment. There had been more than a couple of side trips on the way… kissing caused Clark to lose track of where they were headed.

He groaned as the television next door blared out the news of a landslide in South America.

"Go, Clark."

"Are you sure?" He pulled her in for a passionate kiss.

She reluctantly pulled back a minute later. "You have to. You'll never forgive yourself if you don't. I'll be here when you get back."

He kissed her again, hard and fast. "I love you, Lois Lane." And then he was out the window.

Lois sighed. Somehow she felt eternally teased but she knew Clark would come back to her and they would be together like they were always meant to be.

She sighed and turned to the apartment, glad they had left Smallville early in the morning. The reports on television said that Superman was going to be tied up for several hours at least. That gave her time to plan a little surprise for Clark for his birthday.

She had the black teddy he'd given her, but that was for later. Maybe she'd make some dinner. He was always hungry after landslides. She punched the button on her answering machine. 8 messages. Good grief, who could have called so much since she'd checked them the morning before?

"Lois, it's Max. Call me. We'll figure out a way to get you away from Clark." There was a pause. "I love you."

She hit the delete button and waited for the second message. "Lois. It's Max again. Where are you?"

Lois punched the button on the machine angrily, not caring who the rest were from. What was she going to do about that slime? A call to the APA was in order, that was certain, and the police too. And if he decided to pester her… well, that restraining order was still in place.

A quick trip to the party store was called for, along with a stop by the Planet. She couldn't wait to see Perry and Jimmy and the whole place again, now that she actually remembered who she was. She grabbed a jacket and her purse and headed out the door.


The smell of ink permeated the pit. It was good to be back!!!

"Lois, honey, is that you?" Perry bellowed across the newsroom. He made his way through the maze of desks. "I thought you and Clark were in Smallville for a couple days."

She threw her arms around him and laughed. "It's SO good to see you, Perry! Superman flew us back this morning. I slipped and fell last night and remembered everything!"

"Oh, Lois, honey, that's great. So where's Clark? And is it true? The two of you are really married?"

She made a face. "He had something he had to take care of." Then a huge smile lit up her face. "And yes, we are!"

The television in the middle of the room caught her eye. Superman was leaving the scene of the landslide. She was going to have to hurry. Her stops had taken longer than she'd originally thought, but everything was ready for his return. She groaned involuntarily as an announcement flashed on the screen. Volcano in Japan. There was no way Clark would ignore that.

She couldn't miss the understanding and sympathy that flitted through Perry's eyes. So he did know. Well, he hadn't become editor because he could yodel after all.

"Clark's going to be busy for a while, is he?"

She sighed and nodded.

"Well, hells bells, girl. This place can run without me for a while. How about a little lunch with an old news hound?"

Lois laughed. "That sounds perfect, Perry, but it's too cold to sit outside today." Lois shuddered a bit as they contemplated where to eat. "How about Maggie's Café?"

"Sounds good to me, darlin'."

Ten minutes later they were seated in the cozy diner waiting for their order to arrive.

"LOIS!" A voice interrupted their pleasant conversation.

Max Deter ran to her side, kneeling next to her. "You're back. I thought you were going to be in Smallville longer. I can't believe that Clark let you come back here. Why didn't you call me? Let's get you out of here."

Lois calmly pulled her hand away from his and glanced at Perry, a gleam in her eye. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"

"It's me, Lois. Max."

Her brow furrowed deeply as she pretended to think hard. Then she shook her head. "I slipped on some ice last night and hit my head. I'm afraid I'm not sure who you are. Refresh my memory."

"I was your doctor, until Clark ripped you away from me. We're in love. We're going to go to France to live."

"I don't remember that." Her brow furrowed. "You're my doctor? You were trying to help me get my memory back?"


"What would be the best way to do that?"

"Come with me. Surround yourself with things of our past together. That's the best way to help you regain your memory."

"Surround myself with things of my past? That's the best way to help me get my memory back?"

He nodded earnestly. "That's the best way."

Lois looked at Perry and winked, somehow managing to keep a straight face. "Is that why you told that other guy… what was his name? Clyde?"

Perry chimed in. "Clark."

"Oh, right, Clark. Is that why you told Clark and his parents to stay away?"

"That was an entirely different situation. Clark was intensely emotional and his parents didn't understand the gravity of your situation."

"But wouldn't that have been the best thing to help me get my memory back? Surround myself with the familiar?"

"Of course, if they had been emotionally ready to help you regain your memory, they certainly would have been allowed to see you."

Fury blazed from her eyes as she showed Max the tape recorder she held in her other hand. "Good thing I always have a tape recorder with me." One finger poked him in the chest. "You are slime, Deter."

He stood and started to back away from her. "You don't know what you're talking about, Lois."

"Oh, I most certainly do." She kept poking him as he backed away. "You set out to separate me from my friends, my family and my husband." She flashed her ring, safely back on her finger where it belonged. "You hypnotized me and tried to convince me that I loved you and that we should run away together. You crossed every professional and ethical line, and now you've violated a court order to stay away from me. I recommend you get a lawyer and a good one, because I won't rest until you can't hurt anyone else, ever again."

He grabbed her by the arms. "Lois, you don't know what you're saying. You hit your head again."

"Let go of me, Deter."

Desperation seeped into his voice. "Lois, I love you."

"Let me go, Deter."

"I love you."

She wrenched away from him and then her right arm moved in a perfect right hook.

"OW!" He grabbed his nose. "You hit me!"

Perry moved behind her. "You deserved it, Deter." He put his hand gently on Lois' shoulders. "The cops are on their way, honey."

"Good. I'm pressing charges for violating a court order while I get everything else against this…" she looked Deter up and down in disgust, "…whatever he is in order."

She started to walk away but turned back. "Deter, you don't know what love is. All you know is power and manipulation and control. Not love. " The expression on her face changed. "And I pity you. Love is amazing and wonderful. Pity you'll never know what it's like to love someone who truly loves you." She turned on her heel and stalked out of the restaurant.


An hour later, they were seated in Perry's office, Deter having been taken down to the police station.

Jimmy poked his head in Perry's office. "Superman is busy today. Earthquake in China." He spotted Lois sitting on the couch. "LOIS! You're back! How're you feeling?"

"Much better, Jimmy. I remember everything."

"That's great! Where's CK?"

"He… had some things to take care of."

"Aw, well, I'm sure he'll be done soon."

"Yeah, I'm sure he will." Lois sighed. Earthquake. Go figure.

"Well, it's great to see you. Can't wait for you to be back for good."

"Thanks, Jimmy."

"Jimmy, you get those pictures for me from processing?"

"On my way now, Chief." He smiled at Lois once more, then headed back out into the newsroom.

Lois groaned as she put her head in her hands. Would this never end?

"He'll be home soon, Lois."

"I know."

A young woman Lois vaguely remembered entered the office. "Chief, here's that research you were asking for."

"Ah, thanks, Sarah. Lois, I don't think you've met Sarah. She's one of our newer researchers, but very good. Has the answers for you almost before you ask."

Lois stood and shook Sarah's hand. "It's nice to meet you."

"I saw you here a couple days ago, before you and Clark and that other guy went out to lunch."

"That's right." Lois shrugged. "I'm sorry. I'm sure you've heard, but I've had some problems lately, remembering things. I promise I'll remember you next time I see you."

"I'm sure you will." Sarah smiled warmly at her, but there was something odd in her eyes. Something Lois couldn't quite put her finger on.

"So, is it true? You and Clark are really married?"

Lois held her left hand out. "Yep." She turned to Perry. "I'm going to head over to Clark's place and go through some of the things that were left there after the wedding and then head back to my place until Clark finishes his errands."

"Okay, honey." Perry gave her a hug. "We'll see you when you get back from your honeymoon, wherever you two end up going."

She left the office, unaware of Sarah's eyes narrowing and following her to the elevator.


Lois spent two hours cleaning up at Clark's apartment then headed back to her own. According to the reports on the radio, the earthquake was in a remote area of China, fairly heavily populated but without modern conveniences like television stations. She had no idea how much longer he was going to be.

A long, hot bubble bath relaxed her sore muscles — the fall last night was catching up with her — but she couldn't help but imagine Clark being there with her.

Soon, she promised herself. Soon.

She dressed in a short sweater and short sweat shorts, with underthings that she knew he would enjoy.

Suddenly, he was in front of her.



She was in his arms and their words were lost, muffled by each other's lips.

"We're married, Clark."

He pulled back just a bit to look at her, a devilish grin on his face. "I know."

"Then kiss me."

She leaned back and grinned wickedly at him. "And it's your birthday."

"Lois, the best present I could have is right here in my arms."

Lois pulled his head down to hers and her hands then slipped between them, frantically unbuttoning his flannel shirt.

She mumbled into his mouth. "Mmmm, Clark, when did you have time to change? And you don't smell like mudslide…" More kisses. "…or volcano…" And more. "…or earthquake."

"Super-speed, Lois, and a quick dip in Lake Tahoe on the way back."

Her lips frantically sought his and her fingers soon found the smooth skin of his chest. She could hear his gasp as she lightly touched his wonderful washboard stomach.

His hands had found their way under her sweater and were caressing the small of her back. She could feel the heat on her skin and it sent chills up her spine. Her arms wound around Clark's body until she could pull him incredibly close, all the while her mouth never leaving his.

Finally, she broke contact with his lips and began to drop little kisses across his chest and everywhere else she could reach without pushing him further away. She felt his arms tighten around her and could tell that he wanted her as much as she wanted him.

His breath was becoming ragged and she reveled in the effect she could have on even the man of steel.